I Don’t Set SMART Goals

Anyone who knows me (or reads this blog on a regular basis) knows I am a big fan of goals.  I am constantly amazed by people who don’t set them, and then are frustrated by their life.  If you aren’t intentional about your life, someone else will be. 

And with any discussion about goals, you will here people talk about setting S.M.A.R.T goals.  This is a great goal-setting model that encourages you to set goals that are:






I think this is a great model to get people thinking about their goals.  And for those that have never set goals, it can be a great start.  But, in my opinion, it’s a flawed way to set goals if you really want to make life changes. 

Why?  Let me dig in.

Specific and Measurable:  Don’t get me wrong, I get the point.  You want to set goals where you can measure to see if you have actually attained them.  I have those.  But I don’t think you should throw out a goal if it doesn’t meet this criteria.  For example, my number one goal (every year) is to be a great husband and father.  Experts will tell you that is not specific or measurable…and they would be right.  But I find that if I write down this goal and set it on my desk (to see every day) it serves as a great reminder about how I want to live my life.  This goal is not specific or measurable, but for me, it’s effective.

Attainable and Reasonable:  This one is a pet peeve of mine.  This feels a great deal like big brother reaching down and saying “Be reasonable.”  Don’t set a goal too big or you might fail!  Crap.  Nothing really cool was EVER done by being reasonable.  If you set goals that REALLY stretch you, it makes you think differently about how you can reach it.  If you set a goal of 10% increase in sales, you can do that by keeping the same activity…with just a bit more.  But if you say you want to double your sales, you have to think about ways to go to market differently.  

Timely:  The biggest challenge I have here is that it often sets the stage for short term thinking.  Great goal setting should not only focus on quarterly goals and yearly goals, but also goals of the 5 year and 10 year (and longer) kind.

So for me, I want to set goals.  Small goals.  Big goals.  Crazy goals. 

But I do write them down…and work for them each day.

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